A leading opposition figure is demanding the resignation of Botswana cabinet minister Ramadeluka Seretse, saying it is obvious the minister has been influencing the government’s bidding process.
Opposition member Dumelang Saleshando says minister Seretse “unethically” benefited from his ministry’s budget.
But Seretse, the cabinet official in charge of Defense Justice and Security, says it is “nonsensical” for the opposition to demand he step down amid accusations of graft and conflict of interest. Seretse says he did nothing wrong and he challenges the opposition to prove his complicity.
Dumelang Saleshando, leader of Botswana's opposition Congress Party (BCP) AFP/Getty Images)
“I think it’s nonsense. I heard he (Saleshando) is calling for my resignation because there is a conflict of interest. But you know, in all resolutions of conflict of interest, one doesn’t resign because there is a conflict of interest. If that conflict of interest is not manageable, then obviously, one may have to resign. But a conflict of interest that does not necessarily result in corruption would not require one to resign,” said Seretse.
The minister said he formed the company RFT in 1998 before he became politically active. Some of his clients include the Botswana Police the Defense Force and other security agencies.
Minister Seretse said he respected the law by declaring his assets to President Seretse Khama Ian Khama.
“Of course, we have a system here where we declare for the president what our financial interests are. And I have indeed declared that I do have a company and have been declaring since 2004,” Seretse said.
Botswana’s media reports that minister Seretse and his wife Sandra Salome Seretse are owners of the company (RFT) that supplies ammunition, firearms, surveillance cameras and electronic security equipment to the country’s security agencies that directly fall under the minister’s supervision. Saleshando backs up the reports.
“What has recently emerged and has been confirmed by the minister is that he has been awarded tenders by security agencies, which forms part of his portfolio. And our view is that this amounts to a conflict of interest, given that he has insider information as a minister in terms of what procurement the department is looking at,” Saleshando said.
Recently, a study conducted by the Institute of Security Studies and commissioned by the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime stated that "The risk of (people in political positions) abusing their positions for personal gain has been noted to increase significantly in jurisdictions like Botswana, where there is no obligation placed on them to declare their assets. The government has consistently rejected calls to consider legislation to compel declaration of assets."